The power distribution companies (Discoms) have sought the permission of AP Electricity Regulatory Commission for modifying the telescopic system of tariff collection by bringing down the number of slabs.

Telescopic system of levying charges had been a relief for middle and lower income groups as the tariff is decided in proportion to the consumption in that more the number of slabs lesser will be the burden on the consumers. The Discoms, in their proposals submitted to the APERC on Wednesday, reportedly asked the regulator’s permission to bring down the slabs from ten to five.

“Proposals have been submitted to merge few slabs,” a senior official told The Hindu . Accordingly, it was proposed to retain slabs 0-150, 150-300, 300-500 and 500 above categories. Interestingly, the plea for reduction of the slabs comes in the light of the APERC’s rejection of Discoms’ plea for implementing non-telescopic tariff last year.

The power utilities are seeking reduction in the number of slabs as it would ensure some amount of additional revenues to them. For instance, a household consuming 220 units would be placed in the slab 200-250 units in the existing system and charged accordingly. But, reducing the number of slabs would mean the consumer would be forced to shell down charges applicable for those in the 250-300 units.

“Someone has to cross subsidise for the welfare of sections that cannot afford to pay,” the official involved in finalising the proposals said.

Given the fact that the APERC had set aside collection of the fuel surcharge adjustment since last year, Discoms would find it difficult to survive if the slabs were not reduced. He justified the request for hefty hike as the deficit per unit accounted to five per cent (Rs. 0.27 a unit).

“Overall realisation from domestic category during the year was Rs. 3.88 against actual expenditure of Rs. 5.08 a unit,” he said.

Meanwhile, APERC had decided to commence hearings on the filings of discoms from January 21 and complete them by March.